Improve Your Willpower with Exercise

We live in a society where almost everyone wants to be healthy, fit and good looking..and somehow most people never achieve those goals. It’s not that they don’t try: they do, yet somehow they fail to get the desired results. I bet you also know quite a few people who want to get in shape for years, yet nothing changes despite their efforts. What’s the reason for that? There might be any explanations, but in most cases, everything is actually pretty simple: people are unable to stick to their fitness routines. And everyone knows that without regular exercise it’s very hard to stay fit and healthy. But is there a way to develop a habit of exercising regularly when you’ve already tried few times and failed? Yes, there is.

Willpower is overrated 

There’s a vicious cycle that goes like that: Person decides that she wants to lose weight. Then, she decides that she should start exercising regularly. Then, she gets a gym membership or starts jogging or whatever. Then, the initial enthusiasm fades away and she starts skipping exercise. Then, suddenly she realizes that she stopped exercising and didn’t notice that. Then, she beats herself up for messing up and decides to try again, only to repeat the cycle and beat herself up again few weeks or few months later. With each new round, more and more guilt accumulates and her self-esteem goes lower and lower. Sooner or later that low self-esteem will start affecting her relationships and her career. This cycle is much more destructive than people usually think because it negatively affects all areas of your life. How come so many people can’t do such a simple thing: stick to their exercise routines? I believe that this is because most people are approaching the problem from the wrong angle: they rely on their willpower, which is way overrated in our society. The truth is that they don’t like exercise (actually, they often hate it!), but they try to force themselves into going to a gym .

I suggest you to dump the willpower and learn to enjoy exercise. Yes, you’ve read it right, you can actually enjoy it like many other people do. Think about it: do you really need that much willpower or self-discipline to stick with something you love? No. Wouldn’t it be wiser to fall in love with exercise instead of banging your head against the wall using willpower?

“Exercise is not fun!” is only your perception. In case you see exercise as a torture, it’s important to understand that this is only a subjective perception, not an objective truth. Your current attitude is a result of a negative association with sport which is based on your previous negative experience with it. Maybe your parents made you to do sports you didn’t enjoy. Maybe you had a bad physical education teacher and therefore hated that class. Maybe you were mocked because you didn’t do well in basketball or rugby. Maybe it’s not even related with your direct experience, maybe you’ve gotten an impression that jocks are rude and dumb and therefore you think that exercise make people dumb.

Many things happen during our formative years that form our positive and negative associations with certain subjects and as adults we often act those associations out in our daily lives without consciously realizing it. The important thing to understand is that whatever your reason for the negative association with exercise is, that negative association can be consciously replaced with a positive association based on a positive experience related with sports. Now you can’t believe that you could possibly like exercise. But maybe after some time you won’t be able to imagine your life without it?

Take time to find something you love. The reason why you still hate exercise is probably because you haven’t done it that much after having a negative experience with it, therefore you still associate it with that negative experience. The problem with that means that you have tried only few types of exercise when there are so many of them. You might have tried a type of exercise that is completely wrong for you in the past, but it would be foolish to assume that all types of it are wrong for you, wouldn’t it? You might hate team sports, but maybe you would love yoga? You might find wrestling way too aggressive, but who knows, maybe you would enjoy dancing? Or maybe yoga bores you to death, but martial arts would make you feel more alive than ever? The truth is that you’ll never know until you try many different sports.

Find something that inspires you Once you have figured out what type of exercise you like best, take time to find out what really inspires you to go and exercise like crazy. Runners can be motivated by books about running. Martial artists might keep the fire alive by watching kung fu movies. Free-runners and acrobats might find new motivation in Youtube videos. It doesn’t matter how much we like something, we all get burned out every once in a while. That’s why it’s important to find out what inspires and motivates you and
then make sure that you are exposed to that material regularly.

All these ideas might sound completely alien for you, especially if you’re one of the long-term exercise haters. Relax, you don’t have to go from a couch potato to a fitness god or goddess in one day. Start with baby-steps: sign-up for a yoga class next week, join your co-workers who go to the gym together or maybe ask a friend who’s a marathon runner to get together for a short run on your dayoff.
Experiment with different types of exercise and you’ll soon notice that actually it’s not as bad as you’ve thought.